Monday, October 25, 2010

A Tribute to Joy (1989-2010)

Feet are out of space.

She was a teen when I first met her. She had simple dreams. She wanted to ride a boat and sail to Manila where her neighbors said has “greener pastures”. She planned to work in Manila, go back home to take a two year college degree - a simple secretary course would be okay, and then get an office job. She was interested in a call center job. I told her, “You better start reading these English books." I handed her some pocket books, "and let's talk in English from now on.” She laughed. Then she thought maybe a secretary work would be fine.

But I would hear her read news articles from Philippine Star aloud. She’d ask, “What’s the meaning of ‘doubt’? How about ‘dilemma’?” And when she played with our dog named Jazzy, she’d say, “Bad dog,” “Good dog,” “Out, out,” and “Here’s your food, Jazzy. You eat na.” Short lines that I found adorable.

Once she planned to go back home and finish her studies, but decided to stay. Probably she wanted to help her family financially. Or she preferred to live independently. Or she hoped to fulfill her dreams in Manila.

Heart is out of beat.

She was my baking and cooking buddy. Sometimes I'd tell her, "Okay, it's my turn to cook." But when the splattering hot oil got too intimidating, she'd come to assist me with a smile. Joy was also like a walking organizer. She endured the mess I had created alongside anything I baked. There were the scattered mixing bowls, confectioner’s sugar and baking powder on the kitchen counter, dough droppings, table napkins every where. She’d clean them in a cinch. She even took the liberty of organizing all my baking and cooking materials and labeled the containers with her beautiful handwriting. Sometimes she'd mix the dough with me and tell me about her boyfriend. But before she'd start, she’d ask something like, “Ate, when you have a boyfriend, do you guys fight often?” Then she’d share about her 'handsome' boyfriend. She even had his picture in her cellphone. “Yes, guapo nga!” I would chuckle with her.

Like any giddy teenage girls, she had her share of crushes. She liked Enchong Dee and Jake Cuenca. She had posters of F4 and A1 on her bedroom wall, a couple of which she just posted two weeks ago.

For years that she had been with us, never did I see a droplet of tear trickle down her face. She was strong. She was brave. She wanted to fix things her way. Until she started to feel sick. Her head was aching severely. It was so severe that I have no words to concretely describe it. It was worse than the most painful fever -- when you feel nauseated, dizzy and all.

I found her wearing a bathrobe with its hood covering her head when we went to the hospital. Her eyes were puffy from crying. Her words were shaking as she told me how she felt. She moaned in between breaths. I tried to be still and to limit my questions to save her from exerting effort. That was Monday.

The doctor said she had UTI but she had to be tested for Dengue. Results were to be released on Thursday. She went back to the hospital on Thursday and was confined. It was confirmed that she had Dengue. Good thing, we were able to detect it early I thought. I still got to text with her on Friday and Saturday. She said she was fine, feeling a bit better. She was the type of person who’d reply to texts. Even with something as short as “K” (for okay) she’d send it back. But when I reminded her to eat and drink, she wasn’t able to reply with her usual “k, te joyce”. Little did I know that circumstances had changed drastically.

I called a doctor from UERM yesterday to ask for Joy's platelet count and to check if a certain tawatawa leaves would do her any good. This curly haired, wide spaced face doctor (as described by Ate Kalet, our neighbor) answered me with several exclamation points, "Who are you?! Joy doesn't need a friend, she needs a family! She is in a critical condition right now! What tawatawa leaves are you talking about?! There are tubes already sticking inside her body!" Gee, I can't believe that some doctors can be so insensitive. Instead of "patiently" relaying a patient's condition and understanding the immediate response of the grieving party, she was like provoking a fight. When my dad was in the hospital and was shocked with Joy's condition, the same doctor responded "Why? You think that we are not trained doctors here!? I graduated here in UERM. You want to know all my degrees?"

Good thing, I was able to meet a more pleasant doctor awhile ago. She explained that Joy's sickness was a "rare complicated case of Dengue." She was one of the very few patients who died because of Dengue in that hospital. Her menstruation and dysmenorrhea complicated things. Her other kasama enlightened us that she had been drinking pain killer ever since to help her deal with the pain and control the flow. Last month when she had her period, she wasn't able to take medicine and blood was overflowing. And so was this month. The doctor told us that she had used almost 20 napkin pads yesterday that drained her platelet count. This just goes to show that God’s blueprint of life is definitely difficult to control and predict. He may take people who are young or old, kind or cruel on His own designated time. No day can be added nor subtracted.

I just hope I could’ve helped her more while she was still her. I could've understood how painful her headache was. I could’ve empathized with her more. I could’ve given her something to ease her pain. But I was helpless.

Sigh. I still can't believe that she won't be coming home anymore. No more dreams, no more wedding bells for this sweet girl, now that her heart has stopped beating.

Mind is out of town.

I am supposed to do a concept paper for my management research class which is due three days from now. I have to summarize twenty scholarly articles. But my mind is out of town. It’s away from the here and now. It is a bit groggy as it goes on thinking, questioning, making sense of what has happened.

As I nestled deep in my thoughts, I veered away from where I was literally going. I was thinking that she was just so young. She would just be turning 21 in a few days’ time. She had her whole life ahead of her. And yet she’s gone. Someone once told me that if there is pain, there is a lesson to be gained. But why is “she” the object of the lesson? Why does it have to cost a life? I was walking slowly, one pace at a time, then I hit my foot accidentally on our sliding glass door and blood gushed out from a toe. Bare with me, body, your mind is just out of town.

Joy was loved by all. She was giving and forgiving. I remember one time when we had a new kasama at home who secretly took money from her wallet, she told the person "If you need money, you can just tell me. I can give it to you. You did not have to steal from me. " She had also given some of her old clothes and slippers to friends who were not as blessed. She was happy and content with simple things. Our neighbor told me awhile ago, Joy may be a bit silent but her laughter could reach the guestroom of their house. I could see that her eyes were puffy and red. I guess all who knew her are extremely saddened with the loss.

The consolation is that maybe she'll have the grandest celebration of her life on her 21st birthday. And probably she’s having a feast with Jesus Christ at this very moment. Or maybe, she is already resting happily in the room Jesus has prepared for her in our Father's house.

Hmm.. thinking about it, she may have already reached the prize.

'Til I see you again, Joy.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul.

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